Head coach Pedro Caixinha looks to be on his way out at Ibrox. Craig Fowler looks at his tenure and how we’ve got to the point.
“This is the end, beautiful friend”
At the time of writing Pedro Caixinha is still in a job, but it doesn’t appear like it’s going to remain that way. The Rangers board have called an emergency meeting to discuss the future of their manager. It’s hard to imagine them poring over the evidence and deciding the Portuguese head coach is the right man for the job.
Every decision to hire a manager is a gamble. There are no certainties in football. But this gamble was bigger than most.
Caixinha had never worked in British football before and his track record was fair but not entirely impressive, given the club he was about to take over. He was a left-field appointment.
Caixinha seduced the Rangers hierarchy in meetings, when he was still at Al-Gharafa. The Ibrox board had gone through the process in the correct manner - taking their time, interviewing candidates, not merely picking an easy choice - only to be lured into choosing the trendy option. As we’ve since learned, Caixinha can be impressive, until his team gets out on the park.
“This is the end, my only friend, the end”
It’s fair to say the media in Scotland were not impressed. Few, if any, slated the appointment from the start, but you could sense the distrust in the various voices. Who was this man? Why had Rangers appointed him?
There was no agenda, but Caixinha certainly got a tougher time of it than the likes of Derek McInnes may have endured, had he been appointed. Caixinha had no ties to anyone in Scottish football, no personal relationships. There was nobody to defend him, nobody to talk him up, and spin facts positively.
Not that such criticism isn’t without merit. It comes down to winning games. Do that and nobody can say a bad word against you. But unlike Jim McIntyre at Ross County and Ray McKinnon with Dundee United, it was clear the press had turned against him before the supporters had.
Despite some of the pain that’s been inflicted on them under Caixinha’s charge, a sizable number of fans still badly wanted this to work. They liked Caixinha and his passion, but in the wake of the last two results, they themselves know things have to change.
“Of our elaborate plans, the end”
The most damning indictment of Caixinha was his summer spending spree, which failed to improve Rangers’ fortunes. When he first stepped through the door it was clear he was working with someone else’s team. It was a side built around Mark Warburton’s 4-3-3 philosophy with several players - Rob Kiernan, Martyn Waghorn, Joe Garner - who weren’t cut out for a club with aspirations of mounting a title challenge, even if such optimism was fanciful.
The price tags have varied - Carlos Pena is quoted as costing anywhere from £2.2m to £3.5m - but it certainly appears the Ibrox club spent at least £5 million during the summer. Aberdeen would have been the next biggest spenders in Scottish football outside Celtic, and they only parted with around £500,000.
Spending has to equate success, and that’s not happened. Rangers currently sit in fourth and it’s not even a false position. In fact, Hibs could rightly feel unlucky not to be one place higher.
“Of everything that stands, the end”
The absence of Kenny Miller has been overstated. The 37-year-old has played ten times this season, scoring twice against Dunfermline and Progres Niederkorn, and hasn’t been particularly effective. Fans were calling for him to be axed from the team before Caixinha decided to go with Carlos Pena in the starting XI. Rangers would likely not be in second place and the Betfred Cup final if he’d played every minute, as some would have you believe.
However, the mess which followed Miller’s demotion highlights the manager’s inability to keep a happy dressing room. There have been reports of splits in the camp, and there have been more leaks to the press than the Trump administration. Actually, it’s less of a leak and more a flowing tap.
Last night’s news that captain Lee Wallace, a regular in the side when fit, was told to stay away from the ground lends greater credence to the suspicion that the manager has lost the dressing room. The flat performance in the draw with Kilmarnock, a thoroughly merited result even if it was procured via a crazy ending, further emphasises a potential rift between squad and gaffer, seeing as it came in the wake of Caixinha labelling the same group of players an “embarrassment” just two days earlier.
“No safety or surprise, the end”
If you’re the manager of Rangers you’re expected to win games and trophies. Caixinha hasn’t managed to do the former with any degree of consistency, failing to win three matches on the bounce throughout his tenure, while it would be ridiculous to continue painting him as a possible saviour in the fight against Celtic’s Scottish football dominance.
“I’ll never look into your eyes, again”